You know you`re in Paraguay in December when:
- You rearrange your entire house to make it possible to be in the bedroom all the time, to study and sleep, because it`s the only room with a little air conditioning.
- Men only wear shirts if they`re at church or at work.
- You carry an umbrella to block the sun. If you don`t, everyone asks you why you don`t.
- You study with a frozen two liter bottle of water in your lap.
- It is necessary to buy ice cream every day. Thankfully it`s cheap and available on every other corner. And...it`s necessary.
- People watch TV from outside. No one has air conditioning, so being inside the house is like being being in a sauna.
- Every conversation starts out with talking about how hot it is.
- A hot shower or having to blow dry your hair would be absolute punishment (imagine that while you`re in NYC this week mom and dad! Or you freezing cold BYU students, or dear Jamie in Russia!)
- You probably will sweat more in a 20 minute lesson than your whole family will sweat all week, combined.
- And you know you`re a missionary in Paraguay when dreaming of a white Christmas means....baptismal white. A white which is way better than snow white.
Saturday, December 8th, was a HUGE deal here. (If you google Caacupe, Paraguay there`s probably something about December 8th.) We live fairly close to a city called Caacupe, where there is a large, beautiful Catholic basilica dedicated to the Virgen Mary (Tupasy Roga, house of the mother of God in guarani). On her birthday, the 8th, thousands of people from Paraguay visit the basilica. This year between 30,000 and 40,000 people went. Many of them walk to the basilica to show their dedication. It was so packed that the elders in Caacupe couldn`t leave their house for their own safety. We weren`t too badly affected by it. On Saturday we were walking really far in the middle of a particularly roasty afternoon to visit an investigator (Rodolfo, I will be talking about him later, maybe next week) and we were with a young woman in our branch, Johannah. She was saying that a lot of her friends invited her to walk to the basilica with them, but she was not about to walk kilometers and kilometers in the sun to worship an image. We decided we prefered to walk kilometers and kilometers every single day of our mission for God than to walk one time a year for an image. :)
We are neighbors with our District President, Pres. Velazques, and his family is so great to us. Hermana Velazques does our laundry and they feed us all the time, more than their share. They are one of the three members who have a car, and they always do visits and FHE`s with us. I am so thankful for them. Anyway, they have a 10 year old girl who lives with them, Pabla, who is such a good little missionary. There is a little neighbor girl, Milagros, who is 9 and her mom is an inactive member. One night we had some time, and Pabla and Milagros were playing and I decided to play missionary with them. We let them wear our nametags and they came and contacted us, and we sang and prayed and had a little lesson. They loved it so much, and now they always beg us to play misionera. It is the sweetest thing to watch them act as they perceive us to be. Milagros told us it is her dream to get baptized, and she even went to church, but she lives with her super-catholic grandma, so I`m afraid she won`t get permission. But it is a cherished relationship with those two little girls.
There is so much poverty that I have seen this week. Too many children without clothes, too many drunk fathers collapsed on the side of the road, too many homes without bare necessities. It is so hard on me to take. I know with all my heart that accepting the gospel will improve their lives, temporally and spiritually (Mosiah 2:41), but they don`t want to change to accept the blessings, to qualify for the blessings. I am just so thankful for the Atonement that will make everything that is unfair in this life right in the end. For children to live without loving parents or without food and clothes is an injustice, but thankfully, through the Atonement, even that injustice will be recompensed. Oh it is wonderful to me. It is truly miraculous. There is peace, and hope, and goodwill for all men thanks to Jesus the Christ. I am so thankful for HIM.
Your Sister Missionary,
Sister Faith Goimarac